There's nothing average about themWhen Tricia Back met Amy Stanton while on the job, she really wanted nothing to do with her.
By: Stacy Bengs, The Republican Eagle
When Tricia Back met Amy Stanton while on the job, she really wanted nothing to do with her. “I was not looking to making friends,” Back said, “and she was a bubbly person so I avoided her like a plague.”
The two women work as self-proclaimed whistle-wearing “recess ladies” at an elementary school in Cottage Grove. “I have a guitar charm on a necklace that I also wear,” Back added.
Once Stanton noticed that piece of jewelry, the door to a new relationship was soon opened. “She asked me, ‘Do you want to jam?’” Back laughed. “I thought she was the biggest dork in the world … and she was either going to be really good or really bad.”
That was six years ago. Today the two are best friends and regularly perform as the duo the Average Janes.
No, neither woman is named Jane — but the name suits them better than their original choice of the Black Top Sheriffs.
What Back and Stanton discovered years back during their first “jam” was an uncanny, irresistible ability to harmonize with each other, while complimenting each other’s average guitar playing. “I thought she sang like an angel,” Back said about Stanton, who also admitted she turned out to be a really nice person.
Stanton’s love for music started at a very young age and she knew she always wanted to perform. “Well, my mom says I came out singing,” she explained. “I sang a little song at 15 months old for my baby brother Michael on the way home from the hospital.”
Back never wanted to be a musician, let alone perform live for an audience — big or small.
“I always thought I would never do this around anyone else other than my family,” she said. “My mom taught me how to sing.”
But Stanton had something more public in mind for the two of them. When she told Back she had booked a small gig, Back, at first, was not thrilled. “I said I never would go,” Back said about the duo’s debut performance, laughing about her insecurities.
But she went, so Stanton kept trying to book more shows and the two moms are still at it — bringing out the best of each other and each other’s voices.
“I can’t sing harmony to save my life,” Stanton said, “and it is a beautiful gift that Tricia was blessed with. …She is the reason we have such a beautiful heart-grabbing sound. I was just an OK singer until I was lucky enough to sit and make music next to her.”
Singing a mix from the 1970s and 80s along with a “little bit of country without the twang,” the Average Janes have been frequent performers during the ongoing weekend lineup of live music at the Cannon River Winery in Cannon Falls, among others.
Listening to the duo, one thing is certain — there is nothing average about these women. Stanton is a performer, intertwining shows with stories.
“She is a nice leader,” Back said about Stanton, “and I’m a great follower.”
As the two dust off their whistles for another year on the school’s black top, their friendship and shared love for music continues to grow. The two truly love what they do and you can hear it in their performance.
“I love music,” Stanton said. “It brings you places that you once were and sometimes can break your heart or make you smile so big, and sometimes music brings you to a place you wish you were.”
Both admit music is much more for them than just singing a song, accompanied by a few guitar chords.
“It is something that I need to do,” Stanton said. “It is a creative, spiritual and beautiful thing that I need in my life and it’s so good for my heart and soul.”
Their next performance is set for 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday Sept. 8 at the Cannon River Winery. For more information about the Average Janes and more upcoming shows, check out their Facebook page www.facebook.com/pages/The-Average-Janes/144119545656004.